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Success Stories

This section provides the chance to read about real individuals and their unique journey in how the GEM Project has helped them to move closer towards employment.


Gloucester | Artshape

Julie joined the GEM Project having heard about it through Artshape. Initially Julie trained as a Graphic Designer but has also worked as a chef, until a back injury as well as mental health issues changed things. Suffering with anxiety and depression, she got involved with Artshape where she has since spent countless hours on her beautiful artworks. 

Julie said "The GEM Project has really helped me to get information about how to advertise my work and get it out there. Donna, my Navigator Developer encouraged me to run a market stall in Stroud and had my designs printed onto pencil tins, cups, compact mirrors and bags. It helped my confidence in talking to people and was the first time I'd ever had my designs printed in that way". 

In January, Julie's art, along with others from Artshape, was put on show in an exhibition at Gloucester Cathedral, themed around Odyssey. GEM Navigator Developer Donna said: "Julie is a very accomplished artist and her work really does speak for itself. We are working on supporting Julie to exhibit her work and get maximum exposure, and moving towards setting up a professional website and self-employment. I'm excited for Julie's future and always look forward to seeing her new creations."

Ultimately, Julie dreams of becoming a freelance artist, commissioning work or illustrating books, but would also like to help others enjoy the therapeutic benefits of working with art materials. 


Gloucester | The Nelson Trust

Clare joined the GEM Project in early 2017 via The Nelson Trust, and she was keen to gain volunteering experience and build her skills to work towards become an outdoor fitness instructor.

A mother of two and recovering from alcoholism and mental health issues, Clare had just been able to have her children back and living with her, but things sadly fell apart when she relapsed and was admitted to Wotton Lawn in August that year.  When Clare was well enough to come out of Wotton Lawn, GEM Navigator Developer Michelle supported her on her journey. 

Michelle said:  “I managed to secure a flat for Clare in her own name, and worked with social services to maintain contact with her children, as she decided that she couldn’t cope with being a full-time Mum.”

Clare then took part in an anxiety awareness course - Mind, Monday and Me - funded by the GEM Project, and found mindfulness and meditation at the local Buddhist temple. She also started working with local charity Change, Grow, Live to support her with her recovery.

As a result, Clare became very calm and accepting of life in general and started a health and social care course with the Open University in January 2018. Though Clare decided she needed to put studying on hold, she took on a part-time job at Asda and is now working there full time.  She is aiming to complete her BA in Health and Social Care with the Open University in the future.

Clare said: “The GEM Project and my Navigator Developer gave me the help I needed to get back on track, helped me find what it was I wanted to do and set me on the right path to achieve my goals”.


Stroud | GARAS

Ibrahim was a tailor in Syria working at his family owned factory, with over 30 years' experience in this industry. After losing everything due to the situation in Syria, he came over to the UK on the Syrian Resettlement Programme. One of his daughters was also in urgent need of medical attention and so Ibrahim took the plunge and moved to the UK. 

He met his Navigator Developer Sarah through the support he was receiving through GARAS. She discovered that he used to be a tailor, so wanted to help him pursue a career in this field once again. 

Sarah said "I took a chance at contacting Emma Willis, a well-known tailor in Gloucester. Eve with little English his sewing is so great, I thought it was worth seeing if there was an opportunity for Ibrahim. He had to take a test and make two silk shirts which apparently is really hard to sew, but after the test on Thursday I received a call on Friday, offering Ibrahim a position to start the following Monday."

Ibrahim was employed by Emma Willis for a month, but due to the challenges Ibrahim was facing, including language barriers, family emergencies and understanding UK processes and procedures, it was considered best for Ibrahim to become self-employed. Emma Willis provided lots of support and flexibility to allow this to happen and Ibrahim is now operating his tailoring business from Stroud. 

Ibrahim is now a self-employed tailor, with his main contractor being Emma Willis, but it also enables him to take on other clients -Flax- London being another. 

"I've got big dreams to open up my own factory here in the UK to help other refugees in a similar situation to what I was in. I'm so thankful to everyone who has helped me and my family create a new life here including the support and help from Sarah and the GEM Project."  

If you want to know more about the work Ibrahim is doing, need some alterations or even fancy having something special made for that great occasion, please contact the GEM team and we will pass your details across. 


Young Gloucestershire

Phoebe joined the GEM project with a catering qualification and plenty of volunteering experience, but was really struggling to find a job due to having High-Functioning Autism.

“I was really keen to find a job, but with needing some extra support in a role I found it hard to find an employer who was willing to give me a chance. I was getting lots of interviews but not being offered the job.”

Ione, her Navigator Developer supported Phoebe through interview practice and completing an employability qualification, and now Phoebe is working at Hubble Bubble in Gloucester as a waitress.

Manager of Hubble Bubble, Rae Hunt said: “By making a simple adjustment to our training process – including using clear checklists and straightforward wording with Phoebe – we have gained a very valuable member of the team. Phoebe is never late, she works consistently hard with exacting standards and is meticulous in her presentation.”

“We also gave Phoebe a work trial at the start and could instantly see she would be great for the job.  She performed really well in the interview but the work trial really showed us what she was capable of.”

Phoebe commented: “I’ve really enjoyed my whole experience on the GEM Project, the 1:1 support has been great and has helped to find me a job that I enjoy. I even get to prepare some of the food such as their Freak Shakes!”


Cheltenham | Specsavers

James has a learning disability, and six months ago he couldn’t read or write. Keen to work, he had delivered telephone directories in the past and volunteered for many organisations, but his dream was to find a paid job and to be part of a team.  “I handed out lots of CVs, and went for loads of interviews, but nobody wanted me” said James.

In October 2017 James met GEM Navigator Developer Joe through National Star College. “Joe was really helpful. He said I can always talk to him about any concerns, and call him if I want on other jobs in the future. He took me to interview practice, which really helped when I came into Specsavers.” James added.

Specsavers were delighted to create a role for James, who now works in the lab cleaning glasses, putting them in the right cases and getting them ready for collection. “James is such a valued member of the team” said Emily from Specsavers. “He’s reliable, thoughtful and puts a smile on everyone’s face. In the last few months he’s also started recognising letters and numbers more and has been learning to read though Read Easy.  We’re very proud of him.”

“The GEM project has really helped me" James commented. "I’m so happy to finally get a chance. It’s nice that someone can see beyond the disability, and that’s all people like us need”.

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